After first-set loss, Kennedy asserts itself

Prep volleyball: No. 8 Cougars down No. 14 Jefferson in 4

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CEDAR RAPIDS — The Mississippi Valley Conference volleyball season opened a week earlier than usual.

"You could tell," Cedar Rapids Kennedy co-coach Michelle Goodall said. "I had to tell them, 'This is real. This is it. This is not a scrimmage.'"

Class 5A eighth-ranked Kennedy overcame a case of first-set blahs and a 24-kill barrage by Maddie Slagle to defeat No. 14 Cedar Rapids Jefferson in four sets (20-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-15) in an MVC cross-divisional match Tuesday night at Kennedy High School.

“I don’t really know what happened at the beginning,” Kennedy’s Paige Franck said. “(Jefferson was) all pumped up. But we snapped out of it and got into place.”

Kennedy (1-0) lost three Division-I players to graduation after reaching the state tournament last year. The Cougars won’t be nearly as big this fall, but, as Franck said, “I think we’ll have the back row to make up for it. We might play a quicker tempo.”

The Cougars weren’t quick out of the blocks Tuesday. Jefferson (0-1) scored the first seven points, won the first set, and was right on Kennedy’s heels in Game 2 at 19-17.

Kennedy scored the last six points, though, and played from ahead throughout the final two sets.

“The first set, we played with a lot of adrenaline,” Jefferson Coach Amy Norton said. “We couldn’t sustain it. We’ve got to stay steady and do the little things.

“We’ve got to take it point by point. The girls have a lot of heart. They’re sick of being mediocre.”

Kennedy held a slim 47-44 kill advantage, but counted 12 aces (five by Kendal Meier), compared to five for the J-Hawks.

A University of Iowa recruit, Franck paced the Cougars with 18 kills. Gabbie Meyer added 10. Madi Palmer distributed 41 assists.

Slagle’s 24 kills were more than half of Jefferson’s total. She had seven in the opening set.

Maddy Baxter dished out 33 assists.

CEDAR RAPIDS KENNEDY 3, CEDAR RAPIDS JEFFERSON 1 (20-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-15)

At C.R. Kennedy

Serving — Jefferson 69-76 (.908), Kennedy 80-92 (.870)

Aces — Jefferson 5 (Raya George 2), Kennedy 12 (Kendal Meier 5).

Kills — Jefferson 43 (Maddie Slagle 24), Kennedy 47 (Paige Franck 18).

Assists — Jefferson 35 (Maddy Baxter 33), Kennedy 44 (Madi Palmer 41).

Blocks — Jefferson 4 (Kristen Naber 2), Kennedy 5 (Kayla Joyner 3).

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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